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    Raul Castro: Cuban Economy is Advancing at Firm Pace

    Taken from: Radio Havana Cuba radiohc.cu

    Cuban President Raul Castro said that the update of the Cuban Economic model is firmly advancing, as he closed the 10th Session of the Cuban Parliament Seventh Legislature on Thursday.

    In his closing remarks, Raul Castro analyzed the different changes that have thus far taken place in the country and he noted that all decisions are aimed at improving the country's economy.

    Following the initial measures related to the lifting of prohibitions and other hurdles on the development of productive forces, the update of the Cuban economic model is advancing at a firm pace and it now begins to address major and more complex issues, said the Cuban President.

    The number of self-employed workers has continued to increase with nearly 400,000 people at this point in time, and this trend will be backed with the rental of state facilities for the food business, a more flexible payment relationship between the private sector and state companies and the granting of licenses for new self-employment modalities, Raul explained.

    The successful implementation of the economic and social guidelines demands the change of a mindset rooted in habits and concepts of the past, said Raul and added that such a battle, which show progress, must be first waged by leaders and executives. He added that nearly 3700 senior directives and national executives have taken leadership and entrepreneurial management courses.

    In another part of his speech Raul reiterated Cuba's willingness to hold a respectful dialog with the United States about bilateral issues on equal grounds, while the island maintains its cooperation offers on subjects of bilateral interest, without preconditions or previous gestures.

    Raul stressed the permanent demand of the Cuban people for the return of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held in the U.S., and he recalled that an increasing majority of the US people and the Cuban emigration opposes Washington's economic blockade of the island.

    For 21 years in a row, the international community has overwhelmingly demanded the end of the US blockade and President Obama has the constitutional prerogatives to take significant steps in this direction, said Raul and went on to point out that independently from whatever happens, Cuba will continue on it own path.

    Raul said that Cuba will chair the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2013, which entails a high honor and a great responsibility to which the island will dedicate its best efforts.

    Despite all difficulties and risks, Our America perseveres in its independence, sovereignty, development and integration, aware that without social justice and equitable wealth distribution such goals will not be possible to achieve. At the same time, Cuba will continue to discretely and prudently support Colombia's peace process, said the Cuban President.

    As to the situation of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Raul said that Cuba will always be by the Bolivarian President and his revolution. He expressed affection and solidarity to Chavez and wished him his recovery to jointly celebrate a victory in the upcoming Venezuelan regional elections slated for December 16.

    Finally, Raul Castro said that at just few days from the 55 anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba will face the challenges of the future, since as Fidel said: "if on that day, in the past, we were only a handful of men, today we constitute a whole nation conquering its future."

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